Dylan Gilbert

It’s a little contagious around PEV offices – when a spark pops out of Richie, Walt, Ken or Aaron’s eye over an upcoming artist feature. It starts out with a “You gotta listen to this” email and pretty soon, we’re all in rare agreement on what should be playing through the speakers. Today we feature such a sparkle (that phrase sounds weird but I’m keeping it): Charlotte, North Carolina’s own Dylan Gilbert & The Over Easy Breakfast Machine.

Gilbert started out early, playing at the age of 13, already recording and touring when he graduated high school. Dylan was actually without the breakfast machine until 2010, when he asked pals Zach and John to join in – and the music has been awesome; something that certainly caught the ears of PEV staff.

The record you want to check out first is “Pangaea”, a collection that Gilbert says was “a bookend in a lot of ways. It summed up all the ideas that I had up until that point. Since 2005 I was really interested in perfecting this ‘slicked up indie pop record’ and I felt like ‘Pangaea’ was that record that I’ve been trying to make since I was 18.” It reflects the sound that he and the Over Easy Breakfast Machine have been working on: “It started out as a quirky folk pop type thing and has slowly turned into more of an experimental indie rock band. The sound change also has to do with the recent transition from this being a solo project to a real band.” Whatever you’ll notice about this band’s music, trust me, it’ll be good vibes. The group will be on tour this summer, so look into their schedule. The next album? Huge things. Period. For now, keep going for all the answers to the XXQ’s.

XXQs: Dylan Gilbert & The Over Easy Breakfast Machine

PensEyeView.com (PEV): How would you describe your sound and what do you feel makes you stand out over the others in your genre?

Dylan Gilbert (DG): Well the sound has kind of changed over the years. It started out as an quirky folk pop type thing and has slowly turned into more of an experimental indie rock band. The sound change also has to do with the recent transition from this being a solo project to a real band. We don’t really think to much about what other people or bands in our genre are doing. We try to stay out of niches altogether if we can.

PEV: Calling Charlotte, North Carolina home, what kind of music where you into growing up? Was anyone your main influence?

DG: Charlotte is actually a pretty great music town these days. Both of my parents were in bands and gigged around town when I was a kid. That definitely had a big influence on me. The Beatles, Radiohead, Brian Wilson, Neutral Milk Hotel and Early Weezer were all big influences on me growing up. I don’t know if anyone was a main influence though.

PEV: Having played music since the age of 13, and in the business for a good time now, what was it like for you when you first started out? What was it like trying to break into the music scene?

DG: Really hard. I started recording and touring earnestly right out of high school and it’s really tough to get anyone to take you seriously when you’re 17 or 18 and a solo act. But persistence is key.

PEV: Do you remember the first time you thought to yourself – “I am really onto something!”?

DG: As an artist when you’re really excited about a song or project you might say something like that, but it’s just as easy to not feel that way about the same project the next day. I’m sure the first time I said something like that was probably when I was like 13 years old and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t still agree that I was onto something then.

PEV: What can fans expect from a live Dylan Gilbert show?

DG: It’s always pretty rowdy. We try to make it fun for everyone and engaged our audience. I feel like all three of us try to put as much emotion into each performance as possible.

PEV: What is the first thing that comes to mind when you step on stage?

DG: I’ve never really thought about it, but when you’re on stage your mind kind of goes blank. You’re kind of on auto pilot almost. Your mind and body are synced up with the music and you don’t really have to think about anything except not messing up.

PEV: Tell us how you went from a solo artist to performing as the  Dylan Gilbert & The Over Easy Breakfast Machine?

DG: Well, when I graduated high school the guys I was playing with then all went off to college and stuff so I decided to do a solo project while I was trying to put a new band together. It ended up being a full time solo project for about 4 years. I toured around in my car alone with an acoustic guitar and a bunch of toy keyboards from early 2006 until early 2010. I was going through some personal strife in the beginning of 2010 and didn't really know where I was going, musically or otherwise. And I was really burnt out on traveling by myself so I asked my friends Zach and John if they’d like to come on tour with me over the summer. We had such a great time together that we kept playing together. Now it feels much more like a band or collective and any sort of solo project.

PEV: What was the underlining inspiration for your music? Where do get your best ideas for songs?

DG: That’s always different. Anything that I’m passionate about or anything I’m not, really. It depends on the song and the mood I’m in and what I want to try to say at that particular moment.

PEV: Tell us about your latest release, “Pangaea”. What can fans expect from this work?

DG: To me that album was kind of a bookend in a lot of ways. It summed up all the ideas that I had up until that point. Since 2005 I was really interested in perfecting this “slicked up indie pop record” and I felt like “Pangaea” was that record that I’ve been trying to make since I was 18.  It’s probably the most intricate album I’ve ever released for sure.

PEV: Do you ever find yourself getting writer’s block and if so, how do you get over that?

DG: Sometimes. What’s most important is not getting stuck in a box. Not becoming trapped in your own comfort zone. Try something that you’d never ever think of trying and you can force yourself  out of writer’s block.

PEV: What’s one thing we’d be surprised to hear about Dylan Gilbert and the band?

DG: We’re just full of surprises.

PEV: Was there a certain point in your life when you knew that music was going to be a career for you?

DG: Once I discovered the guitar when I was about 12 or 13 I just knew that I would make a living making music.

PEV: What one word best describes Dylan Gilbert?

DG: Currently? Indecisive

PEV: How is life on the road for you in the music world? Best and worst parts?

DG: Life on the road is always great even when it’s bad. I’m so grateful to have band mates that are also my best friends because we can take the worst situations and make them pretty hilarious. We’ve been stranded and broke down in the middle of nowhere countless times, lost our gear, wallets, had guitars stolen at house parties, stayed in the scariest crack hotel in all of Virginia, got food poisoning, I’ve sprained booth of my ankles and we got in a pretty horrible wreck last summer too. Thank God everyone was OK. Somehow everything always works out. You always learn from the crazy stuff and it makes for good stories.

PEV: Is there one area you wish you could travel around and play that you have not yet?

DG: A big dream of mine is to play in Europe. We have some contacts there. We just need to raise some money. Hopefully in the next year or so we can.

PEV: How have all your friends and family reacted to your career? What’s it like when you get to play at your hometown?

DG: Everyone is pretty used to it by now because I’ve been doing it for so long. When we come home and play it’s always a giant homecoming.

PEV: What can we find you doing in your spare time, aside from playing/writing music?

DG: That takes up a lot of my time. I still take some classes here in Charlotte. Besides that I try to take it easy and spend time with all the people I’m close with. I’m also addicted to Netflix and Super Nintendo right now.  It’s nice to Veg out sometimes.

PEV:  Is there an up and coming band or artist you think we should all be looking out for now?

DG: Oh yeah! The Invisible Hand from Charlottesville VA are amazing. I’m sure those guys are gonna hit it big really soon. We Are Trees from Virginia Beach and The Have and The Have Nots from Charlotte are all really great too.  On a larger scale the new Tune-Yards album is gonna be huge.

PEV: If you weren’t playing music now what do you think you would be doing as your career?

DG: Maybe backpacking in South America?

PEV: So, what is next for Dylan Gilbert?

DG: We’re planning a big tour for this summer. We’re gonna release a few more digital singles until then and after summer we’re going to release our next full length album. It’s going to be a surreal concept album/opera inspired by Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, David Lynch and Surf Music.  We want to push ourselves really hard and use new rhythms, 12-tone figures and lots of spastic song structures. We’re hopefully going to have different people come into the studio to play the different characters as well!

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